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Top Haunted Attractions in Philadelphia

The historic region is full of restless spirits and ghostly encounters

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Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary Photo by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia
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As one of the oldest cities in the country, Philadelphia’s historic landmarks and iconic attractions are a favorite destination for ghost hunters from around the world.

The cells have long been empty at Eastern State Penitentiary, but many believe the spirits of former inmates remain behind the looming walls of the historic prison. In the streets of Philadelphia’s Historic District, Benjamin Franklin is sometimes seen frolicking with his fellow Founding Fathers while the ghost of famed author Edgar Allan Poe has been spotted ruminating in his former home.

Read on to discover more of the haunted locations and restless spirits that are said to roam the region to this day.

01

Eastern State Penitentiary

Former prison — and home to lingering spirits?

Eastern State Penitentiary Eastern State Penitentiary
— Photo by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia

During the fall, Eastern State Penitentiary hosts the internationally famous Terror Behind the Walls haunted attraction, but the spirits linger here year-round. Take a guided tour any day of the week and experience the history of one of the country’s oldest and most brutal former prisons. Today it’s considered to be one of the most haunted places on earth.

Where: Eastern State Penitentiary, 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue

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02

Independence Hall

Founding Fathers may still roam the birthplace of Independence

Independence Hall at dusk Independence Hall at dusk
— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Take a good long look at the eerie faces lurking in the architecture of the walls of Independence Hall. Guests who open their eyes (and mind) a little wider than usual, just might see the spirits of historical greats like Benedict Arnold and Benjamin Franklin.

Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street

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03

Elfreth's Alley

Haunted history on the nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street

Take a walk down the nation’s oldest residential street and you could catch a ghostly glimpse of one of the some 3,000 people who have lived along this eerie alleyway. There are rumors that a soldier was hanged on Elfreth’s Alley, and several visitors have even been able to nab what they consider to be photographic evidence of paranormal activity.

Where: Elfreth's Alley, 124-126 Elfreth's Alley

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04

The Philadelphia Zoo

Spirited activity in the nation's first zoo

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The oldest zoo in America harbors more than 1,300 animals and, allegedly, a few non-living friends. The John Penn house at the Philadelphia Zoo is said to be haunted by the spirit of a woman in a long dress who stands at the top of the staircase. Meanwhile, the Treehouse Building and The Pennrose Building have said to have major paranormal activity going on that just might physically move you — poltergeist-style.

Where: The Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Avenue

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05

First Bank of the United States

Is it the lingering ghost of Alexander Hamilton?

First Bank of the United States First Bank of the United States
— Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

America’s first national bank was established by the first U.S. treasurer Alexander Hamilton in 1795. Hamilton died from wounds he got in a duel and left his surviving wife and children with a stack of debt and a haunting spirit. Several years later, when the bank finally reopened, the new owner had to request a priest to come bless the place. Despite this blessing, it’s said that the ghost of Hamilton still lingers.

Where: First Bank of the United States, 315 Chestnut Street

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06

City Tavern

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Serving up all of the culinary tradition of the colonials, City Tavern also regularly dishes out some frightening spirits of the bygone era that they aim to keep hold of. Visitors should keep a look out because they just might end up getting served by the former waiter that’s supposedly always on the job.

Where: City Tavern, 138 S. 2nd Street

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07

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

Find the spirit of the famous author at his former home

American literature’s most beloved teller of dark and mysterious tales spent several years expounding on evil thoughts in Philadelphia. While you can stop by the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site on one of the city’s ghost tours, come on your own so you can stay and conjure the spirit of Poe, which is said to still linger here.

Where: Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site, 532 N. 7th Street

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08

The Academy of Music

The curtain rises on the paranormal on the historic stage

Academy of Music Academy of Music
— Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

Stars like Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington and Lynn Fontanne performed here, and legendary former presidents like Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland and Richard Nixon celebrated within the Academy of Music‘s walls. Today, the ghosts of the bygone days are rumored to still linger. In fact, women have reported sensing invisible companions who have left imprints on neighboring theater seats and who have even pinched and pulled their hair. One man saw a mysterious black figure appear and disappear before his eyes. The stories come from the upper balconies, so for guests who want to enjoy the true haunted experience, we recommend heading upstairs to take a seat.

Where: Academy of Music, 1420 Locust Street

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09

Pennhurst Asylum

Terrifying day or night

Pennhurst Asylum Pennhurst Asylum
— Photo courtesy Pennhurst Asylum

The history of the abandoned former insane asylum alone will give you the heebeegeebees — it was formerly named Pennhurst Home for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic. Yikes. During the fall months, Pennhurst hosts several spooky Halloween attractions that take you through the building and even underground through the 900-foot tunnel beneath the facility.

Where: Pennhurst Asylum, 100 Commonwealth Drive, Spring City

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10

The Betsy Ross House

Old City home featuring old spirits

Betsy Ross House Betsy Ross House
— Photo by M. Fischetti at Visit Philadelphia

The ghost of famous flag-maker Betsy Ross is rumored to be wandering the halls of this historic house in Old City. Having dealt with the loss of a husband and several children in her lifetime, visitors say this could be why she’s often seen and heard crying in her old homestead.

Where: Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street

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11

Cliveden

Remnants of the 1777 battle remain in Germantown

Cliveden exterior Cliveden exterior
— Photo by D. Wisniewski for Visit Philadelphia

The historic site of Cliveden was a host to the Battle of Germantown in 1777, where about 57 men met their fate. Over the years, there have been regular seances that have been known to conjure the spirit of Samuel Chew Jr., former resident of the house. The list of ghostly encounters doesn’t end there, though. Take a tour and find out for yourself what might live within Cliveden.

Where: Cliveden, 6401 Germantown Avenue

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12

Fort Mifflin

Stay overnight on the hallowed grounds

Fort Mifflin exterior at dusk Fort Mifflin exterior at dusk
— Photo courtesy Fort Mifflin

Named by the History Channel and the Travel Channel to be one of the most haunted sites in the world, Fort Mifflin was the site of a major Revolutionary War battle in which many soldiers on both sides lost their lives. Every Halloween, the fort hosts a “Sleep with the Ghosts” event where you can camp out and potentially have your own ghostly encounter.

Where: Fort Mifflin, 1 Fort Mifflin Road

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13

Grumblethorpe

Gruesome stains remain in the historic home

Germantown Avenue has a haunted adventure waiting for you at Grumblethorpe, the former summer home of the Wister family. The house is said to be haunted by the bloody spirit of British General James Agnew, who was fatally wounded and died in the house during the Battle of Germantown. If the legends don’t creep you out, the still-visible blood stain on the floor might do the trick.

Where: Grumblethorpe, 5267 Germantown Avenue

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14

Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries

One of the oldest and most active cemeteries in the country

Laurel Hill Cemetery Laurel Hill Cemetery
— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Everyone’s favorite local graveyard has events year-round, including movie screenings out on the tombs and paranormal investigations. One could argue that any cemetery could be haunted, but Laurel Hill is one of the oldest in the country and is filled with legendary “hot spots” of paranormal activity. There are a number of cool tours offered throughout the year and at Halloween time, but you can take a walk through its grounds any time — if you dare.

Where: Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries, 3822 Ridge Avenue

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15

Moshulu

Lanterns still burn aboard the former sailing ship

Moshulu Moshulu
— Photo courtesy Moshulu

One of the world’s biggest and oldest four-mast sailing ships still in the water, the Moshulu is said to be haunted by “The Lantern Ghost.” Employees who open the restaurant report finding lanterns burning on the tables even after being extinguished. While at sea, 28 people died onboard the Moshulu, which some surmise might have something to do with the trick lanterns, murmurs and hysterical laughter that Moshulu’s owner and staff have said they’ve heard.

Where: Moshulu, 401 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard

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16

Mütter Museum

Explore odd curiosities housed within the walls

Mutter Museum Mutter Museum
— Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s notorious Mütter Museum will satisfy all of your gruesome curiosities with its fascinating exhibit of frightening abnormal anatomical formations. Ancient body parts encased in jars, death casts and diseased organs are just a few examples of what kinds of creepy collections to expect. We’re not sure if there are any spirits lingering or ghosts involved, but we can guarantee that these bone-chilling exhibits will give you the heebeegeebees.

Where: Mütter Museum, 19 S. 22nd Street

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17

Christ Church Burial Ground

Guard your change from the spirit of Ben Franklin

Christ Church Burial Ground Christ Church Burial Ground
— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

The Christ Church Burial Grounds, where Benjamin Franklin is buried, are said to be haunted by the spirit of the old man who once said, ”A penny saved is twopence dear.” He reportedly steals pocket change to this day — and even throws pennies at visitors to the burial grounds.

Where: Christ Church Burial Ground, 340 N. 5th Street

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18

Powel House

Paranormal activities have been reported at the historic home

Powel House Powel House
— Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Legend says that a respected historian and his wife both claimed to have seen ghosts of the Continental Army — including General Layayette — and even the spirit of the lovely Peggy Shippen, the wife of Benedict Arnold, back in the 1960s at the Powel House. Ghost tours investigate paranormal activity that’s said to continue to this day.

Where: Powel House, 244 S. 3rd Street

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19

Saint Peter's Episcopal Church

Ghostly carriages and ancient Native American chiefs

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At Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church, people have claimed they’ve seen a horse and carriage charging across the cemetery lawn, which is one heck of a ghost sighting. Also keep your eyes peeled for non-living Native American Chiefs roaming around. Oh, and there’s the colonial African-American ghost, too. Check it out on your own or visit with the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tours.

Where: Saint Peter's Episcopal Church, 313 Pine Street

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20

Van Sant Covered Bridge

Scenic Bucks County location with a haunted past

Van Sant Covered Bridge Van Sant Covered Bridge
— Photo by Reflections by Ruth for Bucks County CVB

Rumored to be one of the most haunted locations in all of Pennsylvania, this Solebury, PA, bridge was built in 1875. It’s 86 feet long and rumored to be filled with spirits of the Colonial times. Located nearby Washington Crossing Historic Park, this spooky spot is at least worth a drive through its grounds — even if you’re too chicken to get out and take a walk.

Where: Van Sandt Covered Bridge, 131 Covered Bridge Road, New Hope

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21

Bishop White House

Yellow fever left a lingering mark on this Philadelphia home

The Bishop White House at 3rd and Walnut streets was the former residence of Bishop White, the chaplain to the Second Constitutional Convention and the U.S. Senate in the late 1700s. During the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793, Bishop lost one of five house residents and likely many more from within his ministry and charity clientele. Those who visit should see if they can feel the eerie, phantom sensations the rangers report from walking through the place at dark.

Where: Bishop White House, 309 Walnut Street

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22

Library Hall

Frolic with the ghost of Ben Franklin

Many stories persist of the ghost of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin seen climbing down from his statue at Library Hall and dancing in the streets of the Historic District. In addition to jovial spirit sightings, some say he can be found wandering through the building with an armful of books.

Where: American Philosophical Society Library, 105 S. 5th Street

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23

Cruiser Olympia

Murder and mayhem on the high seas

Cruiser Olympia at the Independence Seaport Museum Cruiser Olympia at the Independence Seaport Museum
— Photo courtesy Independence Seaport Museum

An active military vessel until 1922, the Cruiser Olympia is now stationed at the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn’s Landing. Shadowy figures and tales of murder and suicide are said to inspire a paranormal presence aboard the Olympia. Guests may encounter the famous ghost of “Gunner” Johnson on their visit. Look out for ghost tours often held on the ship around Halloween.

Where: Cruiser Olympia, 211 S. Columbus Boulevard

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24

Hill-Physick House

Weeping wife spotted at the home of the famous doctor

Hill-Physick House Hill-Physick House
— Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

The former home of Dr. Phillip Syng Physick, the “Father of American Surgery” and the creator of first carbonated soft drink in the U.S., is said to be haunted by the ghost of his estranged wife, Elizabeth. Rumors persist that her spirit can be found crying near the site of her favorite tree, which was cut down shortly before her death.

Where: Hill-Physick House, 321 S. 4th Street

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25

Washington Square

Eternal patrol spotted at Philadelphia's former burial ground

Washington Square Washington Square
— Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Washington Square served as a burial ground for fallen soldiers and victims of the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia during the 18th century. The square is said to be patrolled by the spirit of a woman named Leah, who protected the site from grave robbers centuries ago. Today, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is lit by an eternal flame in honor of the of soldiers of the American Revolutionary War buried beneath the square.

Where: 217-231 W Washington Square, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA

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Eastern State Penitentiary
Independence Hall
Elfreth's Alley
The Philadelphia Zoo
First Bank of the United States
City Tavern
Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
The Academy of Music
Pennhurst Asylum
The Betsy Ross House
Cliveden
Fort Mifflin
Grumblethorpe
Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries
Moshulu
Mütter Museum
Christ Church Burial Ground
Powel House
Saint Peter's Episcopal Church
Van Sant Covered Bridge
Bishop White House
Library Hall
Cruiser Olympia
Hill-Physick House
Washington Square
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